Things have been a little hectic of late, with family health issues, summer holidays and changing employment to contend with, so I hands-down failed to promote my story, Pollatomish, which appeared in the August issue of Clarkesworld.
It’s about rockets, family, place, immigration, resource stripping, gig economies gone mad and radicalisation, but as usual all set in a small Irish locale. If it ain’t broke etc.
It was a pain in the ass to write. Like many other writers I follow on Twitter, the Covid years left me either unable or unwilling to write fiction (like there’s a difference), so it was good to know that I can still formulate made-up ideas and transfer them to someone else’s skulls merely by scribbling.
For this, I wanted to break out of the universe my previous two ‘squiddy’ stories were based in, but still wanted to keep things on my home island. It grew from a seed planted by the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in my homeland, who were placed in what were referred to as ‘direct provision’ centres, where people spent years waiting for their asylum status to be established, often in pretty abysmal conditions.
Similarly, Pollatomish is a real place, although I’ve never been there, so anyone familiar with it will have to forgive any licence I’ve taken. It was chosen because it is on or very near the route of a pipeline built by the Corrib Gas Project, a deal between the Irish State and various oil companies to tap the Corrib natural gas field in the North Atlantic. During the protests against the onshore processing of the gas, campaigners asserted that the plans were unsafe, that the economic benefits were overstated and that the Irish authorities jailed protesters at the request of Shell. The Garda Síochána (Ireland’s police force) also faced accusations of using excessive force in breaking up protests. Where better to situate a rocket factory in a crumbling world?
While neither story is really mine to tell, it wasn’t a huge leap to assume that once/should we become a space-faring species, we will very likely replicate all the morally and ethically dubious practices we have on Earth as long as someone makes a buck from it.
It is my third story to appear at Clarkesworld and while Irish writers (at least those writing in English) cannot in any way claim to be underrepresented in general, there aren’t that many of us writing short-form science fiction. Clarkesworld’s eye for left-field, non-US and ‘slow’ stories has benefited me massively in that regard. Thanks as ever to the now Hugo-award-winning Neil Clarke, and team, for publishing it. Neil’s nod for Best Editor (Short Form) at the Chicago Worldcon at the start of the month was richly deserved and very much overdue. And Neil, I do hope that atones for my ill-judged “always the bridesmaid…” remark in Dublin. 😉
Pollatomish has been positively reviewed a few times, which is nice:
Tangent Online said “the author depicts the setting in evocative detail, in a way sure to appeal both to those familiar with Ireland and those who are not”, which is very kind of them and just what the story was aiming for.
SFRevu called it a “Nicely told, bittersweet tale.”
And it has picked up some very kind comments on Twitter:
Thanks to all concerned. I know you are not supposed to read your reviews, but it is always nice to get such comments. Even if some people don’t regard what we do as ‘lit-er-a-choor’: